From Poetry to Press Releases: My First Week at a Scottish PR Agency
Thursday, June 8th, 2017
HOW AN ENGLISH LIT STUDENT FOUND HER WAY INTO THE EXCITING WORLD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
By Alice Ferguson
AFTER finishing university six weeks ago, and spending most of my new found freedom celebrating the end of dissertation and deadline stress, the time had come to put down the prosecco, set the alarm for 6.45am on Monday morning and actually begin the daunting task of ‘adulting’.
Although studying English literature for four years has expanded my knowledge on Gothic fiction and Shakespeare, it doesn’t give you a huge insight into how to write a press release or plan social media coverage for a business.
In fact, my knowledge surrounding public relations as a whole is very basic. Luckily, my first week as an intern at Holyrood PR would change this completely.
Leaving uni, the only clear idea of what I wanted to go into was communications and working with people, building relations and contacts. So when I got the chance to take up this four week intern placement, I jumped at the chance. I saw it as a great opportunity to gain some valuable intern experience whilst also grasping a clearer idea of my future career.
Expect the Unexpected
Like many interns before me, I was apprehensive about what my first day would hold. Little did I know after only 45 minutes of arriving at the office I would be accompanying Stuart and Melissa to a U.S Kids Golf championship in Longniddry.
This was a great opportunity to see what PR is all about as, on the drive to the golf course, Stuart got a ring from STV News who wanted to cover the story. From watching STV news filming and reporting on the event, sitting in on a BBC Scotland radio interview and meeting the clients themselves, I gained an early insight into the world of public relations and celebrating the achievements of your clients to a range of media platforms.
So, my first piece of advice for any future intern at Holyrood: expect the unexpected! It won’t necessarily be a 9-5 office job for the entire four weeks!
From Technophobe to Technopro… (Sort Of)
The rest of my week has consisted of newspaper sweeps to unearth any news worthy stories, writing client blogs and media coverage releases and smaller admin tasks. However, anyone that knows me well will know that when it comes to computers, programmes, or in fact anything remotely ‘techie’, I crumble. Another thing an English degree fails to teach you is how to navigate your way across WordPress or Photoshop.
So when I was tasked with uploading press releases to the HPR website and using Photoshop to create a client media coverage montage, I wanted to press the panic button (that’s if I knew where it was on the keyboard).
Here’s where the infamous ‘Holyrood Intern Bible’ becomes your best friend. Any queries I may have about website uploads or social media coverage, I can more than likely find it in there. However, if ever I need to ask a member of the team for help, they are more than understanding and incredibly patient.
So after a few (ahem…a lot) of tutorials from Chris and Cat, I am beginning to get to grips with WordPress, Photoshop and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), all of which are great skills to have on the CV.
Hopefully by week four of my internship I’ll be a computer whizz…fingers crossed.
Be a Yes Man
Probably the highlight of my first week was my second opportunity to meet clients outside of the office.
On Wednesday, Chris, Stuart and I headed off to Bathgate to Eagle Couriers, Scotland’s largest courier service, where the Transport Minister for Scotland, Humza Yousaf, came for a visit to discuss the company’s trial of electric cars.
I then wrote a client blog post about the visit which was interesting to write after I was lucky enough to sit in on the Minister’s meeting. Hence my second piece of advice for any future Holyrood PR intern; be a Yes Man.
“Would you sit in on the Transport Minister’s meeting?” “YES!” “Can you phone a 100 year old and ask what their secret to old age is?” “YES!” “Can you phone a list of English newspapers asking to send dry-iced packaged ice-cream?” “YES!” Grabbing every opportunity and task given to you with both hands is the only way to get the experience you need to improve your knowledge on PR.
Although some tasks, like phoning up news desks surrounded by an office full of people, are slightly daunting, plan what you are going to say and keep calm. It’s a huge confidence boost when you get a great story from speaking to clients.
What do the next three weeks hold…
My first week has absolutely flown by and I am looking forward to what my next three weeks will bring. Every day I am gaining in confidence with each task I am set and hopefully one of my stories will get some media coverage!
Fingers crossed that by the end of my time here at Holyrood PR I’ll be PR savvy and my inner technophobe will be deleted for good.
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